tollgate

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has come open attacking President Lazarus Chakwera’s Tonse government appetite for punitive taxes being introduced to various services amid economic turmoil Malawians are going through.

The grouping has cited the just the gazetted new fees for the soon to be introduced toll gates.

According to the Government Notice, motorists will have to pay a minimum of MK1,700 and a maximum of MK50,000 to gain passage through the tollgates.

The introduction of tollgates comes amid other heavy taxes on basic items including electricity, water, cooking oil, fuel and among issues that has made skyrocketing of their prices.

In the press statement made available to The Maravi Post, HRDC observes that though government has a right to broaden its revenue collection base, toll gates should not be used to impinge on economic freedoms of Malawians.

HRDC is however shocked that Chakwera Tonse government has decided to play the evil taxman by overtaxing Malawians many times over for the same purpose.

“We therefore, call upon government to listen to the voice of reason and, in consultation with the various stakeholders that represent road-users and ordinary citizenry, revise these fees so that they are within reach of most Malawians.

“In so doing, Malawians will feel that they are contributing to national development instead of being punished for owning a car and using the road.Government must come out clear on how much money from the fuel levies have been collected and used for the past years”, reads part of HRDC statement.

The grouping added, “There must be a clear strategy on how to improve road infrastructure especially key lifeline roads that are in bad shape at the moment.

“Government must at all times consult all relevant stakeholders before coming out with fees that have a potential to push inflation upwards”.

Gazetted new tollgate fees

Below is HRDC statement demanding review of Tollgate fees:

GOVERNMENT MUST REVISE TOLL GATE FEES


Just like most Malawians, we at HRDC have been shocked by the gazetted new fees for the soon to be introduced toll gates.According to the Government Notice, motorists will have to pay a minimum of K1,700 and a maximum of K50,000 to gain passage through the tollgates.

While we appreciate that the tollgate system spurs development in the sense that it raises essential funds for the maintenance of the vital road infrastructure, we feel that in the quest to raise the revenue, the fees should
not be prohibitive.

In our view, much as government has a right to broaden its revenue collection base, toll gates should not be used to impinge on economic freedoms of Malawians.

HRDC is shocked that the Government has decided to play the evil taxman by overtaxing Malawians many times over for the same purpose.

Government’s action in this matter is like milking a thin cow, which is shameful and deplorable. It is an open secret that more than half of earnings by Malawians go back to State coffers through payment of various taxes.Government is being unreasonable to Malawians by adding more high fees and taxes.

We would like Government to justify how it arrived at these toll gate figures. The State must expressly demonstrate if these fees are in tandem with the current cost of living for Malawians who are pinned by untold economic hardships.


Comparatively, in the neighbouring countries such before Government starts collecting toll fees it must explain how the money will be administered and used. That piece of accountability will ensure that there is no abuse of the funds just like it is the case with other state funds.

HRDC is therefore raising objections on behalf of millions of Malawians to be affected by the new fees based on the facts below.

We feel that even as a minimum, K1,700 is on the higher side to a Malawian regular road user. Our reasoning is based on the fact that the ordinary Malawian road user is already over-taxed and overburdened by many Sstate
revenue responsibilities.

Now the same motorist will be forced to pay a fee for merely driving their car on a national road between Blantyre and Lilongwe.

Road-users in Malawi have to part with a series of taxes—from buying the car and registering it with the Motor Vehicle Directorate.

Locally car users are also charged with various permits apart from being taxed through fuel levies on every litre they use. In fact, Malawians would like government to come out clear and account for billions that go into State coffers through the road levies taxed on fuel.

Essentially we understand that the introduction of these fees will drive up the cost of public transportation as owners will have no choice, but to pass on these costs to the passengers.

In the end, it is ordinary Malawians who will feel the pain for the government decision. Malawian roads are in very bad shape and asking people to pay that much as toll fees is daylight robbery.

Car owners are already paying a heavy price for the dilapidated roads that they use on daily basis due to fast wear and tear of their cars. This is not withstanding the high rise of accidents that have taken many lives only due to state negligence to improve the conditions of roads in this country.

Therefore, asking people to dig deeper in their pockets to cover for the negligence of the state is all but unacceptable.

Government is already failing to account for the fuel levies that it collects on every litre of fuel sold thus Malawians do not have any trust that the toll funds will be used for its intended purposes.

In this regard, before government start collecting money for the tollgates, Malawians need to be told how much has
been generated from fuel levy for the past decade and how the same has been used.

Given Tonse Alliance government’s one-year record in failing to manage funds and failure to tackle corruption, the onus is actually on the government to show more accountability to regain the people’s trust.

Our call

We therefore, call upon government to listen to the voice of reason and, in consultation with the various stakeholders that represent road-users and ordinary citizenry, revise these fees so that they are within reach of most Malawians.In so doing, Malawians will feel that they are contributing to national development instead of being punished for owning a car and using the road.Government must come out clear on how much money from the fuel levies have been collected and used for the past years.There must be a clear strategy on how to improve road infrastructure especially key lifeline roads that are in bad shape at the moment.Government must at all times consult all relevant stakeholders before coming out with fees that have a potential to push inflation upwards.


Signed by Gift Trapence, National Chairperson, Naile Salima (Board Member),Loyce Simfukwe (Board Member),
Michael Kaiyatsa ( Board Member) Madalitso Banda (Regional Chair) and
Eastern Region) Masauko Thawe.

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